UN supports Afghan vote fraud probe

The United Nations special envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide on Monday threw his full support behind the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) as the organisation investigates allegations of fraud during last week’s polls.

Several candidates, Afghan and international election monitors and voters have alleged widespread irregularities during Afghanistan’s second ever presidential and provincial council polls, held last Thursday.

The ECC, where three out of five top officials were appointed by Eide, said it had registered 225 complaints, of which 35 were high priority and could affect the outcome of the results.

“The ECC has my full confidence,” Eide told reporters after meeting ECC members in the Afghan capital.

Eide said there was no doubt that irregularities had taken place and stressed it was critical for the whole electoral process for the ECC to detect and address fraud.

“It is not my job to define how significant and how widespread those irregularities have been. That is up to the process that now follows and where the ECC will play a critical role,” he said.

Eide congratulated Afghans for voting despite Taliban intimidation and security concerns. He called on all parties involved to be patient and give the ECC enough time to investigate all complaints.

“I know that the ECC would work as intensively as they possibly can in a way that demonstrates respect for the voters and for the process,” he said.

The ECC has the authority to cancel votes from polling stations should they determine massive fraud took place, or call for a re-election at a particular site where fraud has taken place.

Officials say they will release preliminary partial results from Tuesday, but the ECC has warned that the final outcome—not expected until next month—could be hit by investigations into claimed abuses.

Karzai had been tipped to ease to a second term, but a strong campaign from former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and reports of miserable turnout in the president’s southern power base have boosted speculation of a run-off vote.—Sapa-AFP

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